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The future of technology in the workplace

Stack

“We look at the future in a very short window because for technology you have to,” says workshop presenter Andrew Stack, principal of My Executive Centers during the most recent KNOWLEDGE IS POWER workshop, sponsored byFirstAtlantic Bank and Advantage Magazine.

“It just evolves so quickly and changes are made so rapidly that looking any further out than that as it relates to the workplace is probably irrelevant,” he says, while referring to the timeline of what we can expect in the next six to 24 months in workplace technology.

What does it mean to you as a business owner or business manager, and how can you leverage the near future of technology into the workplace? You do it by knowing what will drive the future and what will push some of the big companies to innovate technologies that aren’t currently in the workplace.

Future drivers

Those drivers include economic/financial and regulatory drivers, operational drivers, and demographic drivers. Economic/financial and regulatory drivers include things such as the recession, changing accounting standards, wanting to decrease fixed expenses, and the way lending standards have increased.

“We survived the recession, but companies need to be more flexible,” says Stack. “If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last three to four years, it’s that we need to be able to adjust the way we run our business based on the changing economic climate.”  He says businesses need to know how to expand/contract as the market dictates.

Operational drivers are what customers are demanding.  As business owners, you are becoming more specialized in what you do. Enhanced IT/tech capabilities are needed just so you can respond to the changing market. Customers are tech savvy and use the Internet and social sites for information and you need a website and to be on social networks to keep up, as well as reach out further on what customers you can attract.

Demographic drivers represent the change in the makeup of the workplace. Mobile computing/telephony is mainstream, whereas it wasn’t 10-15 years ago and the workplace itself has evolved from hierarchal to a collaborative team. Younger workers are requiring a better work/life balance. “With technology, they are no longer constrained by the tether of an office or 8-5 working hours,” says Stack, “Because they can work on weekends from home or a nearby Starbucks.”

So how do we get there?

Lamey

“Look at the years 2010 and 2011. These are going to be the years that will really change the industry in technology as we know it,” says second presenter Donny Lamey, president of DiscoverTec. “Just like in the mid-1990s, everyone had to have a website. They didn’t know why, but they did.

“That is kind of where we are today as technology is changing and new product and services are emerging. Ten years from now you will look back at this period and see how technology shifted from a ‘you must own and control everything’ to a shared service,” says Lamey.

According to Lamey, one of the biggest challenges to technology is the high infrastructure cost—large upfront costs, short equipment lifespans, rapid changes in technology, high cost of IT support—and it’s difficult to achieve ROI. He says that’s when companies start choosing what to update and upgrade, and they end up with a mismatch of technology.

The new workplace

How does it all tie together in the workplace? “Workplaces are becoming more team-oriented with people working together, so today’s tools and technology are designed for it,” says Lamey. “The new workplace is being driven by devices such as your phone or tablet—you dock it, and you are there.”

How do you get all the software and files you need when moving from a traditional workplace to this new workplace? Cloud computing. “Cloud computing is really not new as it is the same concept as a mainframe,” says Lamey. “The main difference is you can access things through Web and are able to use everyday product and services.

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

For example: You are on the Internet and can access your entire network and you are able to access what you are doing at work, then you can access it on your phone after you leave the office, and then access it again at home—all seamlessly; the same file, the same icons, the same desktop, just not the same location.

Cloud benefits

The cost benefit to cloud computing is enormous. “You save a lot of money as a company, which goes immediately to your bottom line, and you always have the latest and greatest to work with,” says Lamey. Other benefits he discussed include:

•Hosted solution saves time and money;

•Universal software used as industry standard;

•The latest version of the complete software suite;

•Enhanced security from hackers, viruses, and spam;

•Easily access and share documents from anywhere;

•All data resides in one location and is backed up daily; and

•Allows businesses to be more efficient in its operations.

EXTRA! To see the entire workshop presentation, visit http://advantagebizmag.com/events/videos, sign in, and learn.


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